Next Generation Leadership Institute

Given the challenges facing our land and our environment, there has never been a more important time to invest in the education and development of future conservation leaders.

The National Conservation Foundation has developed a comprehensive program that will meet this need. The Next Generation Leadership Institute (NGLI) is ready to take conservation leaders to the next level by training individuals to rise to the challenge of understanding and directing national, collaborative efforts in locally led conservation.

Developing Conservation Leaders

The goals of NGLI are to equip conservation district leaders:

  • To become national leaders of tomorrow through personal, civic and organizational leadership development in order to meet the future needs of natural resources management.
  • By increasing their capacity to navigate and manage complex current and future conservation challenges at the national level, which impact conservation districts across the United States.


The Next Generation Leadership Institute (NGLI) was officially launched in 2019 and provides conservation district leaders with the tools to become national leaders through personal, civic and organizational leadership development. This year-long training equips the cohort with the skills needed to build a better tomorrow!

Program Learning Objectives

  • Advocacy and Public Policy
  • Effective Communication
  • Leadership Style
  • Media Training
  • Conflict Management
  • Teambuilding and Delegation
  • Partnerships (National Conservation Planning Partnership)

Frequently Asked Questions

Who’s eligible to participate in the Next Generation Leadership Institute?

Applications for each NGLI cohort are accepted from currently appointed or elected conservation district officials with a current or potential statewide leadership position committed to future conservation district service. Members of the cohort must be district officials with elected/appointed status during the entire program period.

To learn more about previous and current participants, explore the cohort pages by year.

What is required of Next Generation Leadership Institute participants?

Members of the cohort will be required to provide dedication to the program in both participant and financial commitments.

Participation: Applicants will be expected to fully commit to attendance and participation at all program sessions. A commitment form will need to be signed by the participant, participant’s employer (if applicable), and participant’s spouse (if applicable) as part of acceptance. Standard behavior and performance expectations apply to this professional experience. Participation terms can be found here: [LINK?]

Financial: Applicants will pay a $50 application fee to be considered for the program, and if an offer of enrollment is accepted, they will pay a $1,200 tuition. The total value of the program is more than $10,000 for each individual enrolled. Some scholarship opportunities exist for select individuals, and a payment plan option is available (Contact Aubrey Evans for more info). The tuition cost and sponsor donations will cover:

  • Airline travel for all sessions (reimbursed).
  • Ground transport in session locations (reimbursed).
  • Meals during travel (reimbursed).
  • Lodging and meals during all sessions.
  • All training, instruction and transportation during all sessions.
  • Participant materials and supplies.

Costs borne by participants: transportation to/from your local airport, parking at your local airport, and any personal expenses including expenses incurred after daily planned session activities are complete.

What does my tuition cost cover?

Tuition covers:

  • Participant cost of most travel expenses.
  • Materials and instruction.
Detailed financial information will be provided in the commitment form. Installation payments can be arranged as needed.
How do I apply for the Next Generation Leadership Institute?

The application process includes the following components:

  • Fully completed online application submitted before deadline.
  • Signed letter of support from state or territory association, saved as PDF and uploaded to online application platform.
  • Signed letter of support from applicant’s conservation district, saved as PDF and uploaded to online application platform.
  • For alternative options of support, please contact info@nationalconservationfoundation.org.
  • $50 Application Fee
  • Online application link will be available at the start of the next application period in the summer of 2024.
What role do local districts and state/territory associations play?

Local and state/territory support for participation is crucial in terms of endorsement of the applicant as well as confirmation of support for their attendance. The applicant’s district will need to provide a letter of support indicating the endorsement of the applicant’s qualifications and support for their commitment to the time required to participate. The state/territory association will also need to provide a letter of support that should speak to the ability of this individual to help influence large-scale successes for the state and represent the broader conservation priorities of the region.

All letters of support should be on a single page, include signature of representative and should be scanned and uploaded as a PDF file. Any other letters of support (optional) from partners also should follow this format.

In the case of financial need, NCF encourages discussion with all three of these potential supporters: the local district, state/territory association and NCF.

Information for participants

The NGLI program’s strategic structure and approach was developed by an experienced team. The benefits to participants include personal and professional development, which has been structured specifically for conservation district leaders and is unique in the national approach.

Included in the Program Design Highlights:

  • Explore your personal leadership style and conservation ethic.
  • Develop and practice leadership skills.
  • Learn to communicate through conflict arising from conservation challenges and diverse political climates.
  • Understand the value of civic and organizational leadership.
  • Gain practical tools such as needs assessments and strategic planning for both public districts and nonprofit associations.
  • Practice leading districts through change and ways to access new opportunities.
  • Network with conservation leaders from across the nation.

You need to have people out there that are willing to share their conservation story. NGLI provides cohort members with the tools for growing as future conservation leaders at the state level that want to take on additional leadership positions and be more effective in communicating that story and implementing impactful projects. It takes some confidence in yourself and it takes a real skill to be able to fine tune that message. It is all a learning experience in NGLI, and it is an important one.

Patti Lardie
NCF Board of Trustee

Interested in Investing in NCF?

As a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, we run off donations and support from individuals, organizations and companies. We have multiple ways to support the NCF programs and efforts; check out our Invest with Us page